On Sunday, the Padres will play in the Vedder Cup. It’s a tradition as old as – well, as old as the Padres sharing a home with the Mariners in Peoria. The two teams will open their spring schedule against each other at 12:05 PST. And slated to take the mound in the very first live action of 2012 is Anthony Bass.
The 24-year old righty made his major league debut last season with the Padres. He pitched in 48.1 innings and started 3 games. In all, Bass put up a 1.68 ERA. He proved to be a promising addition, and the Padres look to get him some early work with this first start of the spring schedule.
The start, which will probably only last an inning, two at best, means more than just being the spring training opening day starter. It means, the organization is excited to see him pitch. It means the work he’s put in during the bullpen sessions and the live batting practice has paid off. Most in camp have been impressed by Bass’ work so far.
“The command of my fastball continues to get better,” he told the Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune.
Bass is not your typical pitcher. He’s not one to blow guys away with overpowering stuff. He doesn’t strike many batters out. In fact, last season his K/9 ratio was just 4.47. However, he knows how to locate his pitches and he has good command. Out of 729 pitches thrown lats season, Bass threw just 283 of them for balls. More so, he walked just 21. He will need to either reduce his walks even further or increase his strikeouts slightly, as his K/BB ratio was a far-from-impressive 1.14. But again, Bass is not a strikeout pitcher by trade.
He relies on a fastball, slider, and a change up primarily. His fastball touches the high 90’s but averaged 93.2 mph last season. He works mostly in the zone which entices a lot of swings. Most batters make contact with those pitches, but thanks to a surprisingly low BAbip of .255, not many batters get hits. His BAbip will probably regress back toward a more normal average and we should see his ERA increase because of it. However, it is within Bass’ control to limit the increase on his ERA.
Bass’ start on Sunday marks the beginning of baseball. It marks the end of winter and filler stories. It’s time for some real analysis based on game action. We will surely see multiple pitchers on display Sunday afternoon, but Bass will be the first, and for that we thank him.